In a purported bid to attract the powerful Patidar community in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Saturday threw his weight behind the Patidars and jailed quota leader Hardik Patel. Kejriwal’s video message supporting the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader was played at a press conference in Ahmedabad. The video, which was subsequently released by the AAP, went viral on social media.
This is the first time the AAP has come out openly in support of Patel reservation movement. In the video clip played in presence of Delhi MLA and Gujarat AAP in-charge Gulab Singh Yadav, Kejriwal is heard saying, “What crime has Hardik Patel committed for which a case of sedition has been slapped against him and he is languishing in jail for the last eight months? He only raised his voice for the rights of his community. He fought for the rights of the people of the state. Hardik never helped the forces trying to break the nation.”
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Hitting out at Maharashtra revenue minister Eknath Khadse, who resigned on Saturday, Kejriwal added: “Against it, a Maharashtra BJP minister Eknath Khadse’s phone records have revealed that he had talks with Dawood Ibrahim. But no action has been taken against him.”
“There may be differences of opinion over the demands raised by Hardik, but he cannot be termed a traitor. Lakhs of Gujaratis share Hardik’s views. Does it mean that all of them are deshdrohis? It is unfair to insult the people of Gujarat. It is injustice to the people of Gujarat,” Kejriwal added. A press release from AAP’s media convener Harshil Nayak said: “AAP will get rid of the dictatorial policies of the state BJP government.” Incidentally, the AAP Saturday said it was planning to contest all 182 Assembly seats in Gujarat where polls are due in 2017.